Charles Schwiderski

 

How I Got to Vietnam

 

Your writing is awesome Woody, you seem to have it together and you made me try to analyze why I went to Vietnam. I joined the Army because I partied my way right out of college and I didn't want to be drafted, become an infantryman and go to Vietnam. I figured if I enlisted I could get a nice office job. The immature stupidity didn't come until later.

I got what I had planned for, a personnel management MOS after 12 weeks of training and a nice assignment at the HQ of Ft. Benning, GA. Life was good for being in the service but I become bored to death and all the "infantry and airborne" I saw around me and news on the TV started working on my young brain. Vietnam started to look glamorous and exciting to my undeveloped mind. Hell, I could have a nice safe office job and still be near the action.

My job at Ft. Benning was handling special overseas assignments like assignments to MACV. I developed a relationship with my contact at the Pentagon, a woman named Mrs. Greyson. I talked to her numerous times over the phone every day. One day, I asked her if she could get me a MACV assignment and before I knew it, I was on the big bird headed for MACV HQs in Saigon. There was no patriotism in my decision to go to Vietnam, no sense of duty, nothing but a young immature desire to be where things were happening.

I had a blast in Saigon. Saigon was heaven for a young kid from a small town on the farmlands of Minnesota. I had a small motorcycle, could go wherever I wanted, and did. The mobility was fantastic. Then the motorcycle was stolen one night and life after became boring and dull and my mind started working again. I wanted to see some of this action.

I volunteered for assignment to one of the small MACV Advisory Teams and after suffering the tirades of my SFC supervisor, I received my wish, an assignment as an admin specialist for MACV Advisory Team 24 in the Central Highlands town of Kontum. Again, no sense of duty or patriotism, only a young immature stupidity to be where the action was.

I worked at the ARVN HQ for the 24th Special Tactical Zone in the MACV HQ office. Across the street was a large empty field where choppers would land. Often, ARVN units would use this field for their staging area for combat assaults, and choppers would land there with ARVN wounded for the ARVN hospital up the road. I developed a strong relationship with our Senior Advisor, a bird colonel and he would kind of treat me like his son or something. Life was good and there was some indirect action now and again.

Again, I started to get bored and started asking the Senior Advisor to let me go out on operations with the ARVN and their advisors. Colonel Cahill gave me my wish and I stared accompanying other advisors when they went out in the green. I wasn't trained in infantry back in the States but I got OJT training in the Highlands of Vietnam. I relished the green and the camaraderie with the ARVN soldiers. An NCO advisor for the ARVN Highland Scout Companies of the 24th STZ was wounded and Colonel couldn't get a replacement. I grabbed my chance and volunteered for the assignment and after considerable hounding, Colonel Cahill gave me the assignment. I was an NCO infantry advisor and my history in this job you know.

Again, immature stupidity drove me to the action but later, a very strong camaraderie with and devotion to the Scouts kept me there.

Chuck

 

Charles Schwiderski 4/27/2007

A Response to "Why I Went to Vietnam"  by T. P. Woodfork

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